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#1671377 - 05/04/11 01:00 PM Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack?
Theodore Slutz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/10
Posts: 329
Loc: California
Got done watching a documentary series online about Sviatoslav Richter and while i find the history of his life interesting i find his playing was more like swinging an Axe at the piano rather than what you would expect from someone like Horowitz who is possibly the most graceful pianist ever.

I may be a fairly new person to playing piano but as one who appreciates music and tries to find at least one piece i liked he recorded i could find nothing but someone that seemed to take little care in his technique or how he sounded to others.

Even at one point point one woman said, "...at the beginning he was always forte forte forte.." I would say he was ALWAYS like that.

I find quite a few heroic values in Gould but his assessment on Richter was so far off imo that it makes me wonder if it was sincere or was he trying better soviet relations.

Anyone else feel this way about Richter?
_________________________
Charles Walter Model W (190)


“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J.S. Bach


"I just want to know, if we came from monkeys and apes, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?" George Carlin

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#1671381 - 05/04/11 01:09 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
CraigG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/23/09
Posts: 162
Loc: Canada
I have to disagree. Richter was an unmitigated genius.
_________________________
Ignorance is not a point of view.

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#1671382 - 05/04/11 01:11 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
You're deaf.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1671385 - 05/04/11 01:12 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
I know I'm being a bitch, but seriously. There was one year when I thought like you and I also was deaf at the time. Listen more.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1671389 - 05/04/11 01:22 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
I still love this film. Weirdly scary-looking and the carpet looks like it came from Ikea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ-NAgDpRVs
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1671396 - 05/04/11 01:33 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
Originally Posted By: Theodore Slutz
Got done watching a documentary series online about Sviatoslav Richter and while i find the history of his life interesting i find his playing was more like swinging an Axe at the piano rather than what you would expect from someone like Horowitz who is possibly the most graceful pianist ever.


interesting that you contrast him with Horowitz, who is notorious for relentlessly hammering out loud parts (especially in the lower registers of the left hand). Not to mention that he's far from the most graceful -- his gentler playing may be, but there's too much drama in his playing for that title, and at many points (mostly in his later career) his playing sounds a little choppy and forced. Not to mention that his hand position, while it clearly works out well for him, looks incredibly awkward and far from graceful.

Richter's playing certainly can have a great deal of power to it (see: Rach 2, Chopin 10/12, Pictures at an Exhibition), but that isn't all he's about, and he handles more delicate pieces quite well as well. While he's not one of my personal favorites, I certainly appreciate his skills as a pianist and musician.

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#1671400 - 05/04/11 01:42 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: fledgehog]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
interesting that you contrast him with Horowitz


That's what i thought!!

Personally, i prefer Richter to Horowitz. There's something about Richter's playing that doesn't seem to be apparent else where.
_________________________
All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1671403 - 05/04/11 01:46 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Saul Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/07
Posts: 743
Loc: Banned
Richter was a good technical pianist, but he lacked feeling and emotion when he played, lots of his performances are overdone, pushing to far off. Horowitz was more of an artist in a sense where he knew when and how to play soft or hard, he really felt the music with amazing sensitivity and thoughtfulness. To achieve both technical mastery and artistic feeling at his level, is a true rarity.


Edited by Saul (05/04/11 01:47 PM)
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#1671409 - 05/04/11 01:55 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 139
Richter was a pianist. Don't know about his wood chopping skills, but maybe he was good at that, too.

As you say, he probably wasn't the most graceful to look at when he was playing, though. In turbulent passages he could look like he was wrestling a bear. But that's pretty irrelevant considering how it worked to produce the sound he was after.

I think Gould's admiration of Richter was sincere. He often lamented the fact that Richter's performances were so poorly recorded and offered to produce a high quality recording himself if Richter would just fly over to his studio. Richter's response was that he'd do that just as soon as Gould ended his concert retirement and played in his Aldeburgh festival.

In regards to the Forte Forte Forte comment, there are many examples to dispute that claim, but I submit this performance for your consideration. It's a rare treat of Richter performing a short piece by Wagner.


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#1671415 - 05/04/11 01:59 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 139
Huh. Funny how that Wagner sounds so much like Schumann. *Ahem*

Okay, here's the video I meant to post.

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#1671416 - 05/04/11 02:01 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Kuanpiano Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2055
Loc: Canada
If you want to hear Richter play a mile ahead of the rest, don't really look for his Chopin or Beethoven IMO. Listen to his Schumann or Schubert...his fantasie in C by Schumann is incredible, as are his interpretations of the B flat and G major sonatas by Schubert.

Also check out his Ravel, the Miroirs set posted by Truecrypt on Youtube, it's UNBELIEVABLE.
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 118
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto no.3

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#1671418 - 05/04/11 02:03 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Pogorelich.]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8696
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
There was one year when I thought like you and I also was deaf at the time. Listen more.

That's interesting. Richter was one of the first pianists I recall responding positively to as a boy -before Horowitz, Argerich, Rachmaninov- and since then I've always considered him one of the greatest ever.

A short list (those I can think of off the top) of essential Richter recordings IMO:

Bach WTC
Brahms Bb
Prokofiev 8th sonata and 5th concerto (DG)
Rachmaninov 2, selections from the etudes and preludes
Liszt A major concerto, Sonata, Feux follets
Chopin E major scherzo
Mussorgsky Pictures (Sofia, 1958)

And if you're really feeling adventurous: Schubert D960. (But I'm afraid I have to pass on that one.)
_________________________
Jason

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#1671421 - 05/04/11 02:05 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Kuanpiano Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2055
Loc: Canada
Oh yes, I can't believe I forgot about his rendition of Chopin's 4rth scherzo, and the Polonaise-fantasie. Those two pieces were with him for his entire life, his very first recital pieces from when he was a teenager.
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 118
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto no.3

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#1671423 - 05/04/11 02:06 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1652
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
I am forced to agree with Theodore Slutz, although the lumberjack comparison never occured to me.

http://hankdrake.blogspot.com/2009/07/sviatoslav-richter-dissent.html
_________________________
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#1671427 - 05/04/11 02:12 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8696
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
^ The blog was an interesting read, Hank. A fair amount of it I could agree with.
_________________________
Jason

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#1671452 - 05/04/11 02:38 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3885
Loc: New York
Please people.. This is insulting, not to say blasphemous.

There is more musical intelligence, colors, artistry and virtuosity in MOST of Richter's output than are dreamt of by many a pianist.. The man is a genius and an utterly dedicated pianist. The breadth of his repertoire alone is jaw dropping..

Now he was not always careful about his recordings. Many of them are bootlegged or recorded live, willy nilly and were not always well edited, if at all.. . Certainly one can have preferences about the interpretation of specific pieces. But to blast Richter casually is honestly offensive..
To quote my teacher: What do we, peasants, know in comparison to the gods, which when translated into more modern ("Angelina") speak, comes out as: what are you? deaf????

Back to work.. I had to log in for this one!!!


Edited by Andromaque (05/04/11 02:38 PM)

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#1671454 - 05/04/11 02:39 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
Listen to his Schubert b flat 960 and see if you still think that. The thought that anyone would consider him no more than a wood chopper is ridiculous and asinine to me.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1671455 - 05/04/11 02:40 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Hank Drake]
Sparky McBiff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 1112
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Thanks Hank, that was indeed an informative read.
_________________________
Hailun 198







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#1671458 - 05/04/11 02:46 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Pogorelich.]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Listen to his Schubert b flat 960

I adore that one!! Richter champions that piece for me!!!
Ricther is also exemplary in his interpretations of the Prokofiev sonatas, especially no. 6. (i think i may have messed my grammar up here, but i'm much too tired to care.)
_________________________
All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1671461 - 05/04/11 02:55 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: TheHappyMoron]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8696
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock

Richter champions that piece for me!!!

Once you get past the first movement -which takes about a fortnight- I might agree. wink
_________________________
Jason

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#1671466 - 05/04/11 03:00 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: argerichfan]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock

Richter champions that piece for me!!!

Once you get past the first movement -which takes about a fortnight- I might agree. wink


Haha! The 1st movement's my favourite part of the sonata!! But i know what you mean about it taking its time; if i remember rightly half the movement is the same thing repeated.
_________________________
All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1671482 - 05/04/11 03:13 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3621
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Hank,

A nicely considered blog post.

But since I adore Richter, I was curious to find out just what you dislike in him. The crucial paragraph from your post seems to be:

Originally Posted By: Hank's blog
But while some may consider the "pianist of the (half) century" remark a compliment, for me, Richter represents precisely what went wrong with piano performance after about 1950: The rejection of a tonal aesthetic, the equation of glacial tempos with profundity, the pretense of humility (including fetishizing of the score), contradicted by barely disguised contempt for the audience.


Since you claim that these traits represent not just Richter but a general modern trend in piano performance, let's examine each one separately:

"The rejection of a tonal aesthetic": What does this mean? I don't know what this means. (We're discussing Richter, not Schoenberg, right? smile )

"glacial tempos": I don't care for Richter's super-slow tempi in the first movements of Schubert's Bb and G major sonatas. But... but... listen to the Schubert C minor sonata. Listen to his Beethoven sonatas. Listen to Pictures at an Exhibition. Listen to all of his WTC. Richter does not often play glacially... and, in fact, he's often downright fast and exciting! I wouldn't say "glacial tempos" characterizes either Richter or modern piano playing. Would you, really?

"contempt for audience": I don't know if this is true with Richter, but it's certainly not my impression. If I'm wrong, show me: accusations such as "fetishizing" and having a "pretense of humility" should be backed up. Anyway, even if partly true, I'm not sure that these traits influence my feelings of the pianist. (e.g. Mahler was certainly far from humble, and had many failings, but I love him to death.)

So in trying to get to the bottom of what you don't like about Richter (and "piano performance [since] 1950"), I've got one trait that I dispute and don't find relevant (the contempt), one trait I strongly dispute (glacial tempi as a characterizing descriptor)... which leaves the only trait about the man's actual playing, this "rejection of a tonal aesthetic", but I question what that can possibly mean. To me, Richter's tone is engaging, varied, often perfect, always beautiful. What have I missed in your argument?

Maybe his playing just leaves you cold, and that's really as far as we can analyze it.

-Jason
_________________________
Schoenberg op.10+k, Beethoven op.100+k for k=9
Schubert D.899/4, Chopin op.25/2

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#1671506 - 05/04/11 03:50 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Pogorelich.]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6040
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Listen to his Schubert b flat 960 and see if you still think that. The thought that anyone would consider him no more than a wood chopper is ridiculous and asinine to me.


Also worth noting is his 1963 recording of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy. Amazing playing for a lumber jack !!
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YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1671573 - 05/04/11 05:11 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
thalbergmad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/02/05
Posts: 181
Loc: England
Judging by the size of his hands and forearms, I expect he would have made an excellent lumberjack and if teamed up with Chaliapin I am convinced he would have won many a trophy.

Saying that, I am glad he was a pianist and do not recall hearing anything played by him that was not to my taste.

I think it is the first time I have seen his playing criticised on piano forums.

Thal
_________________________
I'm inclined to agree with Thal

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#1671578 - 05/04/11 05:16 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
babama Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/08
Posts: 800
Loc: Netherlands
If you're talking about Richter: The Enigma you shouldn't base your opinion of Richter's playing solely on that documentary, because:
1. They show a lot of material from concertos and they are quite bombastic fragments if I remember correctly.
2. The audio quality of many of those recordings is not good. Dynamic contrast and other subtleties suffer from this.
3. There are plenty of recordings where Richter plays gracefully and with a lot of feeling and subtlety. Listen to more of his music first.

Also, what about the opening and closing theme of that documentary (the Schubert sonata)? Doesn't sound like a lumberjack to me.


Edited by babama (05/04/11 05:17 PM)

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#1671580 - 05/04/11 05:18 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Legal Beagle Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/09
Posts: 776
Originally Posted By: Theodore Slutz
i find his playing was more like swinging an Axe at the piano


Theodore, maybe it was the wooden caster cups he was using laugh

(no offense, TS... just meant as good-natured ribbing from another thread)
_________________________
"Wide awake, I can make my most fantastic dreams come true..."
- Lorenz Hart

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#1671590 - 05/04/11 05:33 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1634
Loc: Colorado
It'd be nice if I could swing an axe even a third as well as Sviatoslav Richter. Such a fantastic genius of the piano. To each their own.
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#1671591 - 05/04/11 05:34 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Theodore Slutz]
babama Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/08
Posts: 800
Loc: Netherlands
Oh well, why even talk anymore. Just listen.









Time to reconsider maybe?

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#1671609 - 05/04/11 06:16 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: babama]
cubop Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 28 2012


Registered: 12/17/10
Posts: 368
Loc: Norway
Thanks Babama. This person has reconsidered considerably. The little I have heard of Richter before was probably not his best. Nobody plays everything perfectly all the time. Richter does everything to perfection in the videos here, and the Chopin nocturne is fantastic. For me Richter has now taken his rightful place besides Gilels. Add some Horowitz, Sokolov and Gould, and I think I have what I need.
cubop

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#1671639 - 05/04/11 07:09 PM Re: Richter: Pianist or Lumber Jack? [Re: Saul]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Saul
Richter was a good technical pianist, but he lacked feeling and emotion when he played, lots of his performances are overdone, pushing to far off.


bah Rubbish. The man was a PHENOMENAL pianist and musician. Clearly, you've no clue.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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